People are exercising much more often than they were just a decade ago. They’re out running and biking in increasing numbers, and we’re glad to see it. But those increasing numbers of pedestrians are also increasing the numbers of car accident-related fatalities. We want this number to go down as much as possible, and that means keeping outdoor activity to dedicated footpaths and bike paths. Here’s where to find the newest bike paths in West Virginia!
Much of the relevant work is being done in Harrison County, where labor continues to close the gaps in existing rail trails. For example, the West Fork River Rail Trail extends just over 17 miles from Shinnston to Fairmont. Trails like these aren’t just great for personal health — they’re great for the economy, too. That’s why Harrison County Commissioner Patsy Trecost is advocating for more development.
Harrison County Commission President Ron Watson said, “From my perspective, the goal was to have a rail trail with Clarksburg as a hub.”
That includes an ongoing project to complete the North Bend Rail Trail. Another would link Pittsburgh to Parkersburg, and would run all the way through Harrison County. Although the trails are becoming more popular — which means they’re bringing more money into the towns where they’re built — it’s still difficult to find enough grant money to complete them in a timely fashion. There are also technical difficulties and communication issues that lead to stalling.
For now, there are plenty of other rail trails where we can bike or walk without worrying about vehicular traffic.
The Gauley Mountain Trail at SlatyFork is one of the more difficult trails. Most rail trails have a maximum single percent grade (because they were originally built for trains, of course), but this one is different. If you’re looking for more adventure, this is your first stop.
The Clovis Loop bike trails are only slightly less difficult. This network is mostly made for mountain bikers, so keep that in mind.
The Greenbrier River Trail in Eastern West Virginia is more on par with other rail trails. The full 78 miles is mostly hard-packed gravel and runs at only a 1 percent grade. Those who aren’t accustomed to biking long distances will still have a rough time going the full distance between Lewisburg and Marlington, though.
If you’re looking for shorter trails to walk or bike along, there are two more good options: The Meadow River Trail in Nallen and the Cranberry Tri-Rivers Trail in Richwood. The former includes a few really cool paths along a bridge and through an old tunnel, while the latter is much more scenic — and also includes a very long tunnel. Bring a headlamp for that one!